Thai military eases gag on TV and radio outlets

Thai military eases gag on TV and radio outlets
An anti-government protester waves a national flag in front of riot police officers and soldiers guarding the entrance of the National Broadcast Services of Thailand (NBT) television station in Bangkok.

Back on Thailand's screens are 333 satellite TV channels, 211 pay TV channels and 24 IPTV channels, six analog free TV channels and 23 digital TV channels - after they were suspended by the military coup.

According to National Broadcasting and Telecommu-nications Commission (NBTC) secretary general Takorn Tantasit, that leaves only 98 satellite TV channel operators waiting for approval from the NBTC and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to resume operations.

Their broadcasting future depends on whether they change their content from a heavy focus on provocative political issues and advertising with exaggerated claims of product quality, he said.

Meanwhile, 13 satellite TV channels and the digital Voice TV channel remain banned from May 22 by an NCPO order.

"They will be allowed to resume their operations when the situation in Thailand gets better - and if they change their programme content to focus on non-political issues," Colonel Pirat Banjongkhian, director of the military technology centre of the Royal Thai Army headquarters, said.

He said the NCPO would not take into consideration the ownership of Voice TV when deciding whether to allow it to resume operating.

Voice TV is owned by the Shinawatra family.

Yesterday, the NBTC and Pirat - as a representative of the NCPO - held a press conference on the status of all TV and radio broadcasting nationwide.

For radio broadcasting, Takorn said 7,300 radio stations were banned by the NCPO order.

Out of the 7,300 radio stations, 4,300 were community radio stations and 3,000 illegal radio stations operating without licences.

Takorn said the NBTC was now considering resumption of radio issues as the next step following deals with television.

Meanwhile, a community radio group, which claims 315 community radio stations as members nationwide, yesterday submitted a letter to the NBTC to consider resuming their operations.

It said the NBTC should lift restrictions on the non-political content of radio stations which were never involved with any political issues.

It complained the suspended operations had affected their revenue and left jobs insecure since the NCPO order of May 22.

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